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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

September 29, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Mike Morse on a small-sample-size slugging rampage

mikemorse1.jpg

Mike Morse had 337 plate appearances with the Mariners and hit a grand total of three home runs.

Mike Morse has had 37 plate appearances with the Washington Nationals, and has hit three home runs.

Morse, in fact, has hit his three home runs in the past three games, in the span of 12 at-bats, and now sports a slugging percentage of .611. The latest homer came last night, to the opposite field, and provided the go-ahead run in a 2-1 Washington victory over thet Mets. He’s driven in 10 runs in 36 at-bats.

As this Washington Post blog post wisely points out, it’s dangerous to put too much weight on September performances. This is the same Mike Morse, after all, that hit .372 in 21 games in 2006.

There were always two primary knocks on Morse during his Mariner stint — he didn’t hit for enough power, and he didn’t have a defensive position. As this Washington Post story amplifies, the latter problem still exists. With Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman on the Nationals, he’s not going to play a corner infield spot, and the prospect of Morse at second base is not enticing. He’s never distinguished himself as an outfielder. I could see a role for him as a utility guy, but there’s nothing in his past to suggest that anything close to the .611 slugging percentage will hold up. If it does, they’ll find a spot for Morse.

The Mariners, as you might recall, received Ryan Langerhans when they traded Morse to the Nationals on June 28. Though he’s hitting just .220/.314/.390 in sporadic playing time, Langerhans has won two games with walkoff homers and played a strong left field. He figures to be a backup outfielder for the M’s next year, and he fills that role nicely.

I still see this as a plus trade for the Mariners, and as much as I liked Mike Morse personally, I still doubt this deal will come back to bite the Mariners. But I always felt that at 6-feet-4, 220 pounds, Morse had a more potent bat lurking within him.

In this Associated Press photo, Morse is being congratulated by teammate Alberto Gonzalez after hitting last night’s homer.

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